Slain Ambassador's Sister: Blame Congress, Not Hillary


The GOP-controlled House Select Committee on Benghazi released its two-year report on the 2012 attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, Libya, on June 28. The report noted failures by the U.S. State Department, U.S. Department of Defense and the CIA that had been noted years before.

Anne Stevens, the sister of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, told The New Yorker in an interview published on June 28 that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who was Secretary of State during the attack, was not to blame, but rather Congress (GOP-controlled House is responsible for budget approval) was --at least in part -- for not allocating more money for security:

It is clear, in hindsight, that the facility was not sufficiently protected by the State Department and the Defense Department. But what was the underlying cause?

Perhaps if Congress had provided a budget to increase security for all missions around the world, then some of the requests for more security in Libya would have been granted. Certainly the State Department is underbudgeted.

I do not blame Hillary Clinton or [CIA head] Leon Panetta. They were balancing security efforts at embassies and missions around the world. And their staffs were doing their best to provide what they could with the resources they had. The Benghazi Mission was understaffed.

We know that now. But, again, Chris knew that. It wasn’t a secret to him. He decided to take the risk to go there. It is not something they did to him. It is something he took on himself.

Anne was asked if she learned anything new from the GOP-investigation and a separate investigation performed by the Democrats.

"It doesn’t look like anything new," Stevens. "They concluded that the U.S. compound in Benghazi was not secure. We knew that."

Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who chaired the $7 million investigation, told reporters on June 28 there was new information in the 800-page GOP report, but refused to say what it was; instead, he told journalists to read the report.

Anne was asked by the magazine what she thought of Clinton's conduct on Benghazi, and replied:

She has taken full responsibility, being head of the State Department, for what occurred. She took measures to respond to the review board’s recommendations. She established programs for a better security system.

But it is never going to be perfect. Part of being a diplomat is being out in the community. We all recognize that there’s a risk in serving in a dangerous environment. Chris thought that was very important, and he probably would have done it again. I don’t see any usefulness in continuing to criticize her. It is very unjust.

Anne went on to say that her brother's death had been politicized, and added that she would like to know the personal motivations of the terrorists (numerous members of Congress have insisted for years that they somehow know these motivations):

The only questions that I have are not answerable by anyone investigated or questioned by the committee.

My questions are about why the militiamen attacked the compound in the first place. What were their intentions? It’d be interesting to know that—and to hear what their views are and what they were thinking.

It has nothing to do with what the State Department or the Defense Department was supposed to do that night. I think everyone did their very best in response to this event.

Anne later said of her brother: "I know he had a lot of respect for Secretary Clinton. He admired her ability to intensely read the issues and understand the whole picture."

In contrast, Patricia Smith, mom of U.S. information management officer Sean Smith who was slain in Benghazi, blamed Clinton for her son's death and said the candidate was lying, notes

Smith told Fox Business on June 28: "Hillary is a liar. All they said, all they reported, I imagine, [...] is what Hillary told them. And I say she lied to them."

As a matter of record, "all the reporting" in the GOP committee report is not just what Clinton told the committee, but rather interviews with hundreds of people.

Gowdy refused to say that Clinton had lied when interviewed by reporters on June 28.

Sources: The New Yorker, / Photo credit: Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo/Wikimedia

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